Sunday, July 31, 2011

Adventures in Babywearing

Living in a bustling city, we knew from the get-go that we would have to be a babywearing family.  We want to wear J for many reasons, and one of which is sheer convenience.

We have a very nice Bob jogging stroller that we have used on occasion (and we're really excited to be able to run with him soon), but sometimes the stroller is just too cumbersome to make the outing worthwhile.  Instead, we secure him into our Moby, Baby K'Tan, Ergo, or Baby Bjorn and off we go.  We have been doing this since J's first week home.


Out for a walk when J was 1 week old.


 Papas look sexy wearing their babies!


weekly farmer's market trips


 There's no easier way to drink a beer than by wearing that babe!


I highly recommend investing in one of these wraps.  Your child will feel secure and happy, and you'll finally be able to get something done around the house or on the town.

Do you wear your baby?  What's your favorite wrap?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Featured Blogger!

Guess what?  Today I'm the featured blogger on


Super Sunday Stalker is hosted by the ever fascinating:

Mariah of Formula Mom

Seriously, get excited because you can join in on the stalking, too!  Here's how it works:

- Follow each host at least one way.  Let them know you did so by commenting on their blog.  Eventually they will return all follows!

- Link up below on one of the pages!  You only have to do it once and it will appear on all of the hosting blogs.

- Now follow as many bloggers in as may ways as you are willing.  And, seriously, who doesn't want a little comment love?  You might want to give them some of that, too.

Thanks for the feature, ladies!

A dirty little secret

Photo courtesy of safebedsharing.org

Before J was born, T and I decided very quickly that we would be a bed-sharing family.  My parents co-slept back in the early 80s and for me it was just "what you did."  As I was discussing this with my mother fairly recently, she said that there wasn't a stigma against bed-sharing but there also wasn't a name for it.  She brought us to bed with her to help establish breastfeeding and, when she saw how well the entire family rested by doing this, they simply continued with their three children.  No one really talked about it, but no one also told her she was making a terrible mistake as a mother (You're going to squish your child!  She will never be independent!  She will sleep in your bed until she's 18!  You and your husband will never be intimate again!).

There are a lot of people out there incredibly passionate about bed-sharing and many more who are passionate advising against it.  But most parents probably fall somewhere in between.  I do not feel like this is a black and white issue.  When pediatricians recommend against it, but a mother does it because it is the only way her child will sleep/nurse/be comforted, she feels ashamed as she keeps this secret to herself.

T and I are very vocal about bed-sharing to help combat this negativity.  We have many conversations with people in all areas of our lives about it.  As a pediatric nurse, T has run into some tongue-lashing (from a woman, mind you, who was single with no children...i.e. no actual experience to back up her opinion) and some support.  I have spoken with all of my friends (who have children or are childless) and many don't even bat an eye.  In fact, a few of my mommy friends have confessed to me that they, too, bed-share when there were zero plans to do so originally.

J does not have a crib and the only time he has slept in one was when he was in the NICU for 3 nights.  While we do have a bed for J where he starts his nights, he joins us shortly thereafter, and always wakes up for the day in between his Mama and Papa.  (Read here a fantastic opinion on how co-sleeping doesn't ruin marriage.)

Here we are napping together
as a family after a long day.

I encourage everyone to be advocates of bed-sharing if it is what worked for your family.  Let this be a dirty little secret no more.

Did/do you have a bed-sharing and co-sleeping relationship with your child(ren)?
Was it in your plan to do this or did it simply happen?

Friday, July 29, 2011

This Moment: No, it was not a...

(This Moment - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.)



Thank you, SouleMama, for the inspiration!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sleeping through the Night

Sleeping through the night, or more commonly referred to as STTN in the internet world, is a goal that most parents in our culture desperately desire.  What is this obsession with getting our children to sleep through the night from the day they are born?  I understand that as new parents, we want to get rest and if our child sleeps for long stretches, we will be able too.  If our child sleeps through the night, we feel like we must be great parents (when in reality, it had nothing to do with our parenting style).

Here's proof of my very own obsession with J sleeping long stretches at night:

Click to enlarge.

The above image only shows some of the "positive" feedback I received from J sleeping well when he was (check the date) 2 weeks 5 days old.  There's no way this would be a normal scenario for any child, let alone my own.  But was I proud of this fact?  Yes.  Did I want to share it with the world?  Clearly.  Was I secretively so happy that I was the one posting this status and not anyone else?  You bet!

Here are two recent status updates from other friends of mine with children under 2 months:


The comment that really kills 
me on this one is the "Good Girl!" comment.  
What, so R isn't a good girl if she doesn't sleep 9 hours?  Ugh.


This child is 3 weeks 6 days old.


Now at four months, J typically goes to sleep around 6:30 -7:30 and will sleep until 12:30, when he's up to nurse for the first time.  This is a great 5 to 6 hour stretch of which I do not reap the benefits because I stay up watching M.ad M.en and blogging doing chores.  When I do go to bed, he usually wakes up for his "midnight snack" and spends the rest of the night in bed with me and T.  After which, I can honestly tell you, I have no idea how long he sleeps/how often he nurses because I have learned to nurse while sleeping.  It's heavenly.

As I g.oogled "Sleep Through the Night," I found a multitude of websites on sleeping training.  Some legitimate, some notsomuch.  I also began reading about nighttime nursing (and/or bottle feeding) and how children so desperately need those feeding sessions to help combat SIDS, encourage attachment, and give energy for growth.  It is at night when children grow the most, so wouldn't we want them to have the energy necessary to do so?

Is sleeping through the night for our convenience or is it in the best interest of the child?  I struggle with this question myself.  Do I want J to sleep through the night?  Hell to the yes.  But not before his cute little butt is ready to.

Bottom line:  Follow your child.  When he/she is ready to sleep through the night, he/she will sleep through the night!  And if you get there at 2 months or 2 years, congratulations!

Disclaimer:  This is no way is saying that sleep training is not necessary or very important for some children.  Each child is different and will require different parenting styles and techniques.  If your child will only sleep when you implement sleep training, then that is exactly what he/she needs.  You know your child best. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Well...that was interesting.

I had my yearly internal exam with the midwives today.  J joined me as T worked last night and will again tonight, so he needed the day to sleep.  I always love to revisit the birth center and see the group of midwives who were so incredible for my pregnancy and birth.

J, our Midwife E who delivered J, and me (seriously, I was still so swollen) 
at 2 weeks postpartum on April 4, 2011.

As I lay down on the exam table where my dilation was checked just a mere 18 weeks ago, I held my baby close to me.

Shortly thereafter, he began to fuss and root.  There was nothing to do but answer his call.  Yes, I nursed my child as I had an internal exam.  Ah, what you're capable of as a mother (even the small things) is pretty incredible...and bizarre.

Have you ever nursed your baby in an awkward situation?  Do tell!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: My Perspective


The Biggest Grin

J can give some killer eye contact.  Undoubtedly, he could school most people in a staring contest.  No, seriously, does this boy ever blink?

When J makes eye contact with T, the cutest smile flashes across his face.  When I meet his gaze at any point during the day, he bashfully turns up the corners of his lips.

But as I prepare my shirt for a nursing session, and he makes eye contact with his food source, he will not break his stare for anything in the world.  On his face emerges the biggest, happiest, toothless grin that I've ever seen on a baby.

Clearly, we know where his loyalties lie.


Edited to add:  My point was just proven - I glanced in at J napping in his moses basket.  His eyes were flickering behind the lids so it was clear he was dreaming.  Suddenly, he was grinning in his sleep.  I paused a moment to watch because it is too sweet.  When the smile faded, his mouth began to nurse.  Ya'll know what he was dreaming about here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

...and then I cried.

T was out of town this weekend for a bachelor party (Read: Only guys from the midwest that no longer live there go back for a bachelor party consisting of camping, beer drinking, lake swimming, and music playing.  Love!)  He was gone from Friday morning until Sunday evening.  Not long, but long enough when you're an 18 week-old infant.

When T got in the car as we picked him up from the airport, he insisted on riding in the back seat with J.  For approximately 5 minutes, J stared at T's face intently.  When, finally, a look of recognition flashed across J's face and with a big smile he let T know that he knew loved him.

Once we arrived home, it was all that J could do but keep eye contact with his Papa.  Even nursing him was a struggle as he continued to break away, roll over, and find his father in the room.  He would then smile and kick his legs excitedly.

I finally handed him over and, as T lay on his back, J stood on his stomach.  They were smiling and talking to one another when all of a sudden J became really silent and concentrated on T.  Then, to our complete surprise, he burst out into uncontrollable, belly-shaking laughter.  He then stopped, shrieked, and began his hysterical laughter once more.  He repeated this for a good 5 minutes as I just watched, laughing from across the room.  J has never given us more than small giggle fits, and it is usually prompted by us. This laughter was from him, pure joy at being in his Papa's arms.

As I laughed along, tears filled my eyes and spilled down my cheeks.  My heart ached and burst for these two men.  This love I have is something that is utterly indescribable.  I could not stop the tears from flowing and I felt as though the wind had been knocked out of me.  

Watching them share this moment is something I will cherish forever.  

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dangerous Heat

Regardless of where you are located across the country, you're probably feeling extreme heat.  I am not someone to particularly mind if it's hot, but having an infant has changed my mindset.  I am terrified J is going to become overly sweaty, dehydrated, and suffer from heat exhaustion if I don't take all precautions to prevent it.  Our air conditioner seems to be struggling to keep up the pace, so I'm having to improvise.

I have slowly been freezing blocks of ice in our freezer in plastic containers.  As soon as one is frozen, I  bring it out and place it in front of our fan in the living room.  Isn't this how the original air conditioners worked?

I also put J in a cool bath to play.  It was the first bath he's ever taken without actually needing it.  I brought in his bumbo and he went to town splashing and inspecting his toes.  Afterwards, the two of us only put on necessary garments.

I seriously cannot stop taking pictures of my baby sans clothing.

Contained in a large plastic bag, I put some of J's receiving blankets in the freezer.  When it's time to nurse, I pull one out and lay it as a barrier between his skin and mine.  Otherwise, we're both a puddle of sweat in mere seconds.  I'm also offering him an opportunity to nurse very often, before he requests.  This way I ensure he's plenty hydrated.  Last night, I even went so far as pumping 5 oz. and offering it to him chilled.  I wasn't sure if he'd take it as he has only had a warm bottle but, lo and behold, he took it willingly and even attempted to hold the bottle on his own (wow!).

Lastly, I'm keeping the blinds drawn and staying inside.  In fact, we didn't leave the house for 2 whole days.  Hello, cabin fever!  (Truthfully, I dosed myself with a little of J's vitamin D drops.)

Heat index of 119?  We will not be defeated!

What do you do to keep cool in these temperatures?  
How do you ensure your little one is safe from all heat-related injuries?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Auntie K and Baby J

Today, J met his Auntie K.  It was love at first sight.



He's now sleeping.  K and I are eating strawberries and brown sugar, drinking deliciously chilled sauvignon blanc, and gossiping.

Happy evening to you!

Friday, July 22, 2011

This Moment

(This Moment - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.)


Thank you, SouleMama, for the inspiration!

Nappies

Before having J, T and I discussed the many reasons why we wanted to use cloth diapers.  Cloth diapers are environmentally friendly, cheaper than disposables (even more so when we use them for our children in the future), and healthier for our baby.  There is so much information with regards to cloth diapers on the internet that I was thrilled to start my research.  And this was the moment where I, at 30+ weeks pregnant, ripped out my hair, ran waddled in circles, and sighed in exasperation.  Too much information made me panic.  

One-size diapers?  Hybrid diapers?  Pocket, Sleeve, Fitted, Prefold, Flat cloth diapers? Wet bags, pail liners?  Snappi Fasteners? (Okay, seriously, why the hell are they called snappi fasteners?  I don't see any snaps anywhere.) WTF!  How is someone able to choose what works best from so many choices and zero experience?  

I pretty much threw all the information out the window and connected with a friend of a friend who makes cloth diapers.  I told her to tell me straight - what do I need and how can I get it affordably?

This is what I ended up with:


J at two weeks on the quilt stitched by his Great Great Grandmother.  
Be still, my heart.

She made us 20 newborn diapers made from organic bamboo cotton.  The insert was sewn directly into the diaper, folded to create extra absorbency, and fastened with a snappi.  We used the Thirsties brand diaper covers over his newborn diaper.  Voilà!  We were so happy and J was thrilled (i.e. no fussing for diaper changes)!

As he's grown out of the newborn diapers (*tear*) we've moved into the next size up made by the same woman.  She spiced it up a little bit and used fun, printed fabric for the outside layer.  

Here is J at 4 months:

Cloth diapers!  Leg rolls!  Heaven!

She also explained to me what wet bags were and why they were so much better than using a plastic bag to carry around and store dirty diapers before the wash.  I ordered 4 wet bags, 2 larger ones for bathroom storage and 2 smaller ones for our diaper bags.  They keep every mess contained and I literally unzip, dump the contents and throw the bag in with the wash.  So simple!


Our wet bag hanging in the bathroom next to our incredibly useful diaper sprayer.

We currently have 10 fitted diapers and use Thirsties duo hemp prefolds when the fitted ones are in the wash.  For the fitted diaper, we put it on him, close with the snappi, and put him in a Thirstie diaper cover.  With the prefolds, we tri-fold them, place them directly in the Thirstie diaper cover, snap him in and let him loose.  Look at how adorable these are!



The insert and shell of the fitted diaper made from 
organic bamboo double-sided terry cloth.  
We fold the insert 3 times at the top (because he's a little boy) 
and then position the last part of it under his bum.

I am ashamed to say I have no idea how much I have spent up to this point on diapers and all their accessories but I would ballpark around $400.  But!  But!  We have saved, by 4 months, close to that same amount in disposable diapers.

We use cloth diapers around 90% of the time but I'm pushing to make it 100% by the fall (look for the future post on the eco-friendly, compostable disposable diapers we use).  We, unfortunately, live in a small urban apartment sans washer/dryer.  Lugging cloth diapers down three flights to the communal laundry room is feasible but not always convenient.  We use disposables as a result of running out of clean diapers.  Mommy. Fail.

I still have so much to learn but I am excited to continue to experiment and learn from other expert cloth diaper-ers.

So please share!  Do you use cloth diapers?  How did you get all of your information on how to do it successfully?  What have you found does/doesn't work?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Playthings

Maria Montessori emphasizes the importance of beauty and order of a child's environment.  As a result he is not overstimulated and is better able to control, process, and order his own thoughts.  T and I desperately strive for a beautiful and orderly environment for ourselves, so we were excited to pass along this appreciation to J.  Likewise, we value not having a home where it is immediately apparent that we have a child (i.e. no toys strewn precariously about the room).  By having his toys displayed beautifully on the shelves, he is taught to appreciate and care for them.  In order to facilitate and foster this beauty and order, we began exposing J to this from day 1.

Here is our living room television stand and his shelving unit for toys.

We believe that all of J's playthings should be made from natural material, attractive to the eye, stimulating and encouraging the use of imagination.  While J has a few items made from plastic, most of his toys are made from wood.  The noise that they make are organic, visual, and beautiful.  Not pictured above is J's favorite rattle.  This rattle has a small bell secured between wooden slats.  He is able to shake and listen to this rattle, but he can also see the bell.  As such, he is able to make the connection of his motions to the ringing of the bell on the inside.

Coffee table with the top shelf holding adult books 
and on the bottom shelf books for J.  
Notice the artwork on the wall is hung at the eye level of a child.

We also believe in limiting J's book choices.  When children have too many books, they are overstimulated, not able to appreciate just one story.  When I go into a restaurant that has a menu 10 pages long, there are too many choices and I become frustrated and unable to decide what to order.  When I go into a restaurant that lists fewer choices, I have a much easier time deciding what to eat.  The same point is made here: fewer book choices will mean that the child will have an easier time choosing what to read, will revisit the book much more often, and have more of an appreciation for the book.

Granted, we live in a small urban apartment with closets long overflowing before J.  So as I discuss the ideal, we know that it is not always feasible.  What we do is strive for this type of environment always and everywhere in our home.  But, as you see here, we have too many books to be able to hide them away in the closet and rotate out when J is finished with one book.  We will try and make these books inaccessible to J when he is older and only bring them out to the shelf on the coffee table when he is ready for them.

Sidenote:  At one of my baby showers, each guest was to provide a book 
for J in lieu of a card that went with their gift.  
As a result, we have tons of books that are inscribed in honor of J.  
How lovely is that!?

And here is the little tyrant sweet boy himself, 
snacking and sucking on his wooden grasper.

How do you organize your child's toys?  Do you choose toys for any specific reasons?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Family of 3 at 4 months

Happy 4 Months, Baby J!



J
- loves rolling over from his back to his tummy, but sometimes gets frustrated when he forgets how to roll to his back.
- is "creeping" as his grandmama refers to it.  Basically the precursor to crawling (what?!).  He puts his butt in the air and his legs move like he's crawling.  However, he face plants and drags his arms behind him.  He can make it fairly far across the room but leaves himself with wicked rug burn.
- gets so excited when he's standing and prefers this position 95% of the time.  In fact, he would live in his "Johnny Jump Up" or "KidCo go-pod" if I would allow it.
- has learned to yell and will continually yell at his toys as he yanks them to his mouth (or yells at me when he wants to get out of bed in the morning).
- enjoys it most when his Papa plays him music on the guitar (a few recent favs:  Pretty Baby - Elizabeth Mitchell, The Book of Love - Magnetic Fields, Such Great Heights - Postal Service, Empty - Ray LaMontagne).
- is nursing every 3 hours during the day and 5-7 hours at night.
- starts the night off in his own floor bed around 7:30, and joins us in bed around 2ish when he wants to nurse for the first time.
- smiles constantly and is giving us great belly laughs more regularly.
- is generally a low-key, laid back boy.
- has his (late) 4 month appointment next week.  His unofficial weigh-in today was 16 lbs!


E
- is loving this stay-at-home-mama gig for the summer.  Why can't we be independently wealthy so I can stay home all the time?
- is excited to be attending more mom groups and getting to know more people with babes, including the lovely women from our hypnobirthing class.
- has made it down to pre-pregnancy weight, but is curious to see how the body weight has shifted.  I'd like to get rid of the donut I'm lugging around my waist (and 15 lbs. until goal!).
- loves reading blogs of mamas with infants and young children.  How great that there can be a supportive community online as well as offline?
 - enjoyed the library recently and can't wait to read some great books (future review to come).

T
- is working a ridiculous amount and is sad that his family time is limited.  We, however, are so hugely thankful his sacrifices allow me to be at home with J.
- doesn't sleep during the day when he is supposed to because he wants to play with his boy.  Reversing the circadian rhythm to work nights is a difficult task.
- travels to the midwest for a bachelor party in a few days.  Just J and I left on the home front.  We will miss him terribly.
- is so attractive when wearing scrubs and holding his baby that it makes me want to have another child (TMI, sorry).

Wordless Wednesday: No Diaper Roll Over


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Naps are for the birds

J was giving me his sleepy signals, rubbing his eyes that were slowly turning pink around the edges, wanting to nurse and be cuddled, yawning and sucking on his thumb.  So I took him to the bed, we climbed in together and he nursed with droopy eyes.

When he finished nursing, I crept off the bed and turned around to see that he had already flipped to his belly and was grinning at me.  He started to jabber, do his "push-ups", and kick his legs.  All right, little man.

I left and listened to him talk for 20 minutes.  Each time I walked past his door, as quietly as humanly possible, mind you, he somehow sensed my presence and turned his head.  With a loud shriek he let me know that he was as happy as a clam and would not be taking a nap anytime soon, thankyouverymuch.

45 minutes passed and he was rocking the tummy time.  But now his vocalizing had a bit a fuss at the end, and I knew that today he would not be taking a nap.  Thank goodness he's so cute that I don't mind "rescuing" him and snuggling together.  In my arms and off to the living room we went...and he was asleep.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Parenting Styles

Parenting philosophies are hot topics in which people become very emotionally invested.  This is to be expected as we all do what we feel works for our child.  In our household, we try and subscribe to many parenting styles because it is what's best for our child.  
  • Does J cry it out?  No, but he fusses it out as I know how to distinguish when he's calling for attention compared to when he's really upset.  
  • Does J sleep in a crib?  No, he has a floor bed where he begins the night without us but bed-shares with us later on.  
  • Does J wear cloth diapers exclusively?  We try but sometimes it is too difficult to do laundry as we do not own a washer or dryer.
  • Does J watch TV?  He tries really hard to crane his neck and watch the quick and flashy movement.  I turn off the TV, but I'm not concerned if he watched it for 2 minutes.
  • Do I read to J?  Yes, but not consistently.  We read when he's interested.  This changes from day to day.  If he'd rather be on his belly, squirming and having a conversation with the cat, I won't force him to sit and listen to my story.
  • Does J get attention 100% of the time?  No because it's not feasible but, even if it were, I wouldn't always be singing, playing, or reading with him.  He needs to learn independence, even at such a young age.
  • Is J on a schedule for eating, sleeping, playing?  He's not on a schedule that any book designed.  I breastfeed on demand, let him sleep when he's tired, and his activity cannot be controlled by me!  However, he has developed his own schedule that is now predictable and consistent.  We let him guide us as opposed to the other way around.  Now I simply help him remember the schedule he set for himself.
More than just parenting styles, marketers are weighing in and telling us what our opinions should be.  I find it fascinating how so many products are mother-approved and we are told to give said product to our children because it's the "best" way to give them a head start.  This is difficult to hear.  What if I don't give my child a, b, or c?  Does this mean I'm not giving him what's "best"?  Does this mean I'm settling for "good enough"?

I do not wish to compare myself or my child to anyone else or join in on the competitive mommy wars.  When we make decisions about our parenting, T and I are thoughtful and experimental.  For it's all just trial and error anyway, no?  We want what's best for J, no matter what that means.  I know that every single parent does what they feel is best for their child.  I will not judge, compare, or attempt to persuade any parent when it comes to raising their child.  I will, therefore, expect the same.

We are not perfect parents for anyone but one.  We are perfect parents for J.


Do you subscribe to a parenting philosophy?  Have you experienced judgement from others on the way you raise your children?  How do you handle the situation when it comes to mommy wars?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Birth Story - Part IV

Read Part I, Part II, and Part III.

Because it is difficult to rewrite and reflect on the moments after birth, I will share with you the letter we sent to our family and friends to give them the full details of our trauma.  As I edit the letter to delete any identifying information, I cry.  I cry remembering my pain, I cry remembering my baby's pain, I cry remembering my baby being pulled from my arms not once but twice.  But mostly, I cry in humble gratitude and thanksgiving.  God is good.
Dear Friends, Family,
We want to thank you all for your support, prayers, and love as we have recently expanded our family!  On Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 2:55pm, we welcomed our baby boy J into the world.  After 15 hours of a natural and peaceful labor - and with the wonderful support of our doula, A, and E's mother - J was born!  Our little guy weighed in at 7.00 lbs and was 19 & 3/4 inches.  He was very alert and healthy and all of us were able to spend nearly an hour together without interruption.  These moments will forever be cherished.
An hour after delivery, E was unable to deliver the placenta and suffered some complications that caused her to begin to hemorrhage.  While fairly lucid during the entire process, she did lose consciousness several times after labor due to significant blood loss.  After a successful birth at the birth center, E had to be transported via ambulance to the nearest major metropolitan hospital center.  J stayed behind with E's mother and A at the birth center to be cared for as he was too young to be discharged.  T and our midwife accompanied E to the emergency room, where she was immediately transferred to the operating room.  In the OR, E was given many IVs including a central line in her neck, heavy antibiotics, narcotics, epidural placement, multiple blood transfusions and a surgical procedure to remove her placenta.  The high risk obstetric surgeon unofficially diagnosed E with placenta acretta (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Placenta_accreta), a condition where the placenta attaches itself too deeply into the uterine wall and cannot be delivered naturally - the odds of having this condition is 1 in 2,500 pregnancies, but even less common in first time young mothers with no history of uterine surgeries.  The doctor warned E that there was an 80% chance of a needing a hysterectomy to remove the entire uterus if they were unsuccessful in removing the complete placenta.  Her warning stated that even if a small fraction of the placenta remained in the uterine wall, at any time, E could begin to hemorrhage again with critical consequences. 
Meanwhile, T waited in the recovery room and was updated by our midwife who was able to accompany E into the operating room.  We were reunited an hour later where the next wait began.  E's blood loss was continually monitored by a balloon catheter that was placed inside her uterus, and an arterial line measuring continuous pressures in her blood stream.  Understanding T had a medical background, one of the attending doctors showed him E's vital records and lab values as they were taken when she had first arrived.  With a very serious look on his face, he explained that they would "be having a very different conversation had you arrived just 30 minutes later."  He then put his hand on T's back and said, "Consider this a good day."  E was on the verge of severe shock and possibly death as she had lost almost 1/2 of her entire blood volume in nearly 90 minutes.
Close to 9 pm that night, E's mother and J were reunited with us in the recovery room where E began to stabilize, narrowly avoiding placement on the Intensive Care Unit.  At 2 am on Monday morning, she had an MRI to see if there was evidence of the placenta still attached.  The radiologist arrived early the next morning to read the results and give his official prognosis, where he did not see sufficient evidence to require a hysterectomy!  
On the heels of this amazing news, E made leaps and bounds in her recovery - even insisting that she be weaned off of the morphine so that she could finally and safely hold her baby in her arms.  After a day and a half of steady improvement, she was allowed transfer to a step-down post-partum unit for less critical patients.  Things were looking up as we sent E's parents home for this, the second night after birth.
Earlier that day (Monday) we received a special visit in E's hospital room from J's pediatrician who, concerned for his coloration, ordered a few blood tests to be done.  The results were not obtained until around 1am Tuesday and were at levels so high that T had to rush J away from E's side and into the emergency room at the children's hospital.  Once there, they informed him that since J's bilirubin levels were climbing at such a fast rate that if he had waited until morning, brain damage may have occured.  After a few upsetting days of pokes and prods in the Neonatal ICU, J was able to be discharged on Thursday.  E too, was allowed to go home that day from her hospital.
Since then we have been simply trying to play catch-up on bonding that was lost those first precious and frightening days.  Now, officially three weeks out: both E and J have passed their follow-up appointments with flying colors and are finding their new normal with amazing grace.  Most importantly, E and T are trying to appreciate every single fleeting second of parenthood (even the middle of the night exhausted ones!).  We know that some of those mothers and babies whose hospital rooms we walked by that week did not make it home and we continually pray for them, and know that we are blessed beyond reason.
We apologize that some of you may have heard only parts of this story while others none at all, but trust you understand how difficult both keeping and sharing these details were, while trying to live through them.  
We have only now had a moment to breath and begin to reflect.  

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bathing a Babe

I recently met up with the mamas from our Hypnobirthing class.  Four out of five of us have given birth, and it is such a great experience to meet up, dine, and love on each other's baby.  What is best about these lunches is that we can ask questions, receive advice, and exchange stories.  On Thursday, we discussed in length our bathing and bedtime routine.  Needless to say, this inspired me to subject J to a gratuitous photo shoot as I bathed him.


To bathe J, we wanted to use soap that was sensitive on his skin but also safe in case he, inevitably, ingests some bubbles.  We love California Baby bath products!  We have compared them to other "green" bathing products but nothing lives up to California Baby.  We suds him up with the body wash and lather him down with the lotion.  He is always so soft and clean after his bath.

The wash cloths we use are from the clothing company Satsuma.  They are made from organic bamboo terrycloth and are just about the softest fabric imaginable.  I'm about to order more wash cloths just for myself!


J's bathtub is a little unusual, considering what is mostly marketed for newborns and infants.  We use the fantastic "European style tub" made by Spa Baby.  What makes this tub so great is that he is submerged in the water throughout the duration of his bath.  As a result, he stays warm and is rarely exposed to the chilly air against his damp skin.  The enclosed design of the tub helps secure J in his instinctive fetal position.  He loves bath time, and I attribute that largely to this tub.  Bonus?  It's environmentally friendly as it is made from 100% recycled, non-toxic, BPA-free plastic!


To dry off after his bath, we use the organic bamboo hooded towels from Little Bamboo Baby.  Bamboo is such a soft and environmentally responsible material that we adore these products.  J looks fairly content, no?


And here he is, relaxing on his microsuede rocking chair, leaning against his soft sheepskin, cozy in pajamas.  He's wearing Carter's Precious Firsts elephant sleeping pajamas.  We love the Precious Firsts clothing line.  Everything is soft, durable, and so cute!  They work well for J's body as he is long and lean, avoiding the problem he has with many outfits that look bizarre due to their width.

Disclaimer: All of the above product reviews are my opinion only.  I have not been compensated by promoting these items. 

What products do you use to help make your bathing routine wonderful?

Birth Story - Part III




Read Part I and Part II.

T and I climbed into bed and he fell asleep very quickly. My mother slept on the bed we set up in the living room, and the house was silent. My contractions started to become regular but far apart, so I attempted to sleep but awoke to time each surge. They were coming every 5 to 7 minutes and lasting anywhere from 45 seconds to a minute and a half.

Weeks before, we finished our course on Hypnobirthing. In this birth training, I learned to welcome each contraction and visualize the opening of my body and the downward descent of my baby. I learned mantras that I repeated to keep calm and steady as labor progressed. I was committed to remaining patient and trusting in my body to know what to do. In retrospect, I am so thankful I had these techniques to help me birth J.

At around 4:00 am on Sunday, March 20, after only a little rest, I had 3 really hard contractions while sitting on the toilet. At that point, I texted my doula and told her I could not do it alone anymore and I needed her to come over. She left work immediately, stopping home only to change and grab a bite to eat. I went into the bedroom, woke T and my mother so they could begin collecting our belongings.

Our doula showed up at 5:00 am, and talked me through a few more contractions. She had me sit upon the birth ball for awhile, and observed my behavior to determine how far along I may have been. Knowing the birth center was about a 20 minute drive from our home, I opted to go sooner rather than later. Contracting in the car sounded terrifying to me, so we all agreed to leave around 5:30.

A, our doula, drove and stopped the car in the middle of the road so I could contract silently and completely still. T sat in the back and held my head. Thankfully, it was in the wee hours of a Sunday morning, so the streets were almost completely empty - a rare sight in our bustling city.

Upon arriving at the birth center, we were greeted by 2 midwives and a student midwife. I was taken back to the exam room where I was checked to see how much progress I had made over night. The contractions started to come in harder at this point, and the exam would stimulate another. I had progressed to 5 cm dilated and about 75% effaced. I was excited about this progress and was ready to jump in the birthing tub, but the midwives wanted me to walk around for at least an hour. I was angry at hearing this and all but told them.

So we walked. My mother, T, A and I walked the halls of the birth center. With each contraction, I reached for T, held on to his shoulders, and swayed gently. The midwives were wonderful and left us alone. With each contraction, I tried to breath calmly and continue my visualizations of opening and progressing.

About an hour later at 8:00 am, I was anxious to be checked again and allowed to go to the birthing room and climb in the tub. I desperately wanted the relief of the water I had heard so much about. As we headed back to the exam room, I leaned over the birthing ball for support to make it through another contraction. It was in that moment that I became nauseous and needed to vomit. I bolted to the bathroom, followed by T, and violently retched into the toilet. Having a contraction and vomiting at the same time is possibly the worst feeling in the world. After making it through this miserable moment, I turned around to see the smiling faces of my doula and the midwives. Quite confused, I asked for clarification. They told me vomiting was a great sign that labor was progressing and that I was in transition. 


My midwife checked me and confirmed that I was now at 7 cm and 90% effaced. I was allowed to go back to the room and get in the birthing tub. I was thrilled! While I waited for the tub to be filled, the baby's heart rate was monitored on the dopplar and approved. I sat on the birth ball for a while longer and then climbed into the tub with T. 

At this point, my memory becomes foggy as I was thrown into the throes of labor. I chanted in my mind the mantras, I visualized my baby, and I slept through every break between contractions. I changed positions from the tub, to the birthing ball, to the bed and back again. I held eye contact with T through each contraction and I breathed with the breaths of my doula. I did not want to be moved or to speak during a contraction so I sat as still and as calm as I could. T said that I was stoic throughout my entire labor - almost having a silent birth. I attribute this to my ability to focus and rest as taught by hypnobirthing. Even as my breathing would panic on the upswing of a surge, I was able to calm down once more with the help of T's encouragement and A's guidance.


At around 12:45 pm, I was mentally finished with labor. I demanded my midwife check me and she confirmed that I was dilated to a 10 and 100% effaced. While not having the strong urge to push, she invited me to try a few to see if anything would happen. Pretty quickly, J's head moved down the birth canal and everyone in the room happily acknowledged seeing little bits of hair.

Pushing was a struggle for me, but I managed to push 3 times for every contraction. I pushed for over an hour and was exhausted when my midwife suggested watching through a mirror the progress I was making with each push. During the next contraction, I kept my eyes open and breathed down. I saw J's head move down, and was frustrated to watch it go back at the end of the contraction. Two steps forward, one step back. However, just seeing his head was enough motivation to give it my all so I could meet my son.

At one point, I remember my midwife encouraging me to slow down so I would not tear, but I could care less about tearing at that moment. I was finished. And he was here.


J was born at 2:55 pm on Sunday, March 20, 2011.  He was 7 lbs. and 19 3/4 inches of pure heaven.   After 15 hours of labor, T and I welcomed our son into our arms. I held him on my skin and breathed in the relief and accomplishment of all that I had done. We stayed this way for an hour. I held him on my chest and T held me.  I cherish this memory and it will forever be etched deeply in my heart.

And this is where my birth story of J ends.


Read Part IV.

Friday, July 15, 2011

This Moment - An Evening Stroll

(This Moment - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.)





Thank you, SouleMama, for the inspiration!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Birth Story - Part II

Read Part I  here.


Despite my waters breaking at 12:30 on Saturday, March 19, I had no contractions or any other signs of labor.  We called my midwife, the same woman who had checked us that Thursday evening, and she congratulated me and told me to call her when the contractions began.

At that point, we set to work preparing.  T did the dishes, made food, and completed the laundry.  We were going to give birth at the birth center in our city and, as it is their policy, you leave the center and return home 6 hours after birth.  Therefore, being that we were committed to co-sleeping, we needed our sheets to be clean for our little man!

I showered and shaved (of course!) and then took a nap on the couch.  At this point I was thrilled, but did not want to become overly excited as I know adrenaline can stall labor.  Napping did not work very well, but I did get a bit of rest.  At this point, I called my parents and proceeded to cry once more.  It was their plan to come visit us and our newborn one week later, but the excitement of the moment and the fact that I was not yet contracting sent my mother into a mad dash to pack, fly across the country, and make it in time to see the birth of his first grandchild.

We also called our doula, who happens to be a labor and delivery nurse at a local hospital, and informed her of our situation.  She was headed in to work the night shift that evening, but told us to call when labor progressed and she would leave work to attend to us.

At around 6:00 pm, I was trying to enjoy a dinner of pasta that we had made. I did not have much of an appetite but I tried to eat as much as possible for energy reserve.  Upon standing, my waters broke completely as they had only been trickling up to this point.  Just as I had seen in the movies, I ran to the bathroom and stood in the bathtub.  T stood there and watched in disbelief.  If we weren't sure we were in labor, at this point it was a done deal!

By 9:00 pm, and still no contractions, my mother arrived and we went to pick her up.  That supermoon that I so desperately wanted to begin my labor shone brightly, leading our way to the airport.  Upon returning home, T climbed to the roof of our building to document it.


By around 11:00 pm, we phoned our midwife to tell her that I had yet to begin contracting.  She then suggested nipp.le stim.ulation to get them started.  She said if that did not work, to go to bed and get some rest.  In the morning we would try castor oil if my body did not begin on its own.  Not wanting to wait for castor oil, I humbly covered myself with a blanket and T repeatedly brought me warm wash cloths to start stim.ulation.  Within 30 minutes, my contractions started to roll in, but nothing too strong and they were virtually painless.

We all decided to go to bed at this point to get some rest so we were prepared for what was to come next.

Read Part III.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Beer Bread

Being that J's 3 (almost 4!) months old, his alert time has lengthened significantly which means I have to entertain!  A good way to keep us both engaged in an activity is to cook.  I put him on the counter in his bumbo and he's a happy camper while I bake something delicious.

Simple Beer Bread
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
12 oz. beer
1/4 cup melted butter



Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine dry ingredients and mix well.  


Add beer.  


Transfer dough into a well greased bread pan and pour butter over the top.  


Bake for 60 minutes.

That's it!  The bread is best eaten immediately, piping hot from the oven.  I'm embarrassed to say that T and I ate the entire loaf before I was able to capture the final product.  I guess this means I will have to make some more.

Here's J helping make beer bread!  Excuse the iPhone quality.


Wordless Wednesday: Jumping for Joy


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Birth Story - Part I

The weeks leading up to J's birth, I told everyone I was convinced I was going to begin labor on March 19.    This is because meteorologists were predicting a "supermoon" described as this:

On March 19, Earth’s satellite will be at its closest point to our planet in 18 years -- a mere 356,577 kilometers away. The event -- also called a lunar perigee -- was dubbed a "supermoon" by astrologer Richard Nolle back in the 1970s. The term is used to describe a new or full moon at 90% or more of its closest orbit to Earth. Next week, it will be at 100%.

Now, I do not typically believe in the pull of the moon as having the ability to create natural disasters or even send women into labor for that matter.  But, my due date was on March 21 and I hoped that I could will the moon to make my waters break on that Saturday.  I was ready to meet my boy.


On Thursday, March 17, I became faint at work.  A clammy, dizzy feeling lead me to call my midwife for fear that my blood pressure was out of control.  She immediately ordered me into the office for a blood pressure check and to check the baby's heart rate.  Luckily, T was not working that day and was able to drive me to the birth center.  

Thankfully, my blood pressure was within normal range, although slightly elevated.  The baby's heart rate looked good but my midwife encouraged me to stop working and stay home.  Although it is not common practice, the midwife offered to do a vaginal exam to see how far along I may (or may not) be.  After debating whether or not I wanted to be checked, I opted in.  I knew that despite any progress I'd made up to that point, an exam would still not tell us when our boy was coming.  She checked me, which was quite uncomfortable, and announced that I was already 60% effaced and dilated to a 3.  She then stated that she was the midwife on call over the weekend and that she was sure she would see us soon.  T and I were ecstatic and, on our drive home, called our parents letting them know our progress.

I did not return to teaching the next day and so began my maternity leave.  I spent all day Friday on the couch, reading, watching television, and sleeping.  I felt wonderful.  That evening, T and I took a very long walk to Whole Foods where we bought strawberries, sandwiches, and root beer (a constant favorite for me during pregnancy!).  We walked to a local park where we took pictures of my belly and enjoyed each other's company.





Lo and behold, Saturday, March 19 rolled around and I had no signs or symptoms of impending labor.  I sighed but didn't lose faith in that supermoon.  I went to the grocery store to walk up and down aisles to encourage the boy to move lower in my pelvis.  After returning home, I made multiple trips up the stairs bringing in heavy groceries and staying as active as possible.  But, at 39 weeks 5 days, that can only last so long.  Before heading to the couch for a nap, I went to the restroom.  Upon standing, I felt the slightest trickle down my leg.  I sat down, performed a kegel, and stood once more.  Yes!  Finally, my waters were breaking.

Being that T works nights, he was sleeping in the bedroom reversing his schedule for his upcoming shift. I gently awoke him, and told him he would have to call out that evening as I was pretty sure I was in labor.  At that moment, I proceeded to burst into tears.  Confused, he comforted me and asked why I was upset.  I was emotional for many reasons:  thrilled that meeting our boy was imminent, scared for impending labor and delivery, and nostalgic for my own childhood as this means I was really growing up.  I was going to become a mother.

Much to our surprise, I did not have a single contraction for 11 hours after my water broke.

Read Part II here.

Pooping...what!?

When J was born, up until he was about 12 weeks, he had a dirty at least once a day.  He often had more than that!  But at 12 weeks he went 7 days.  7 days! without so much as a sign of a poop.  (Read:  T and I refer to a little marking in the diaper from gas as "sharts."  Classy.)  Anyway, at 7 days we called his pediatrician who suggested a glycerine suppository.

Thank goodness T is a pediatric nurse and has had lots of experience with this because, if it were up to me, I'd let my baby go without pooping for a long time.  What?  At least he'd weigh more on the scale.

Within 15 minutes, J had a massive, struggling poop that was experienced by none other than his Grandmama, Grandaddy, Uncle, and parents.  Needless to say, pictures were taken, cheers were shouted, and glasses were clinked.

Now, you'd think the problem was solved.  Whatever plugged him, plugged him no more.  But this isn't true.  At 16 weeks, he is now averaging a dirty diaper every 5 or 6 days.  We are currently on day 6 and I'm anxiously awaiting the next celebratory poop.

(Yes, I'm blogging about his bowel movements.  Yes, I use cloth diapers and am kind of thrilled I don't have to wash them out in the toilet with each change.  Yes, he's exclusively breastfed so I know sometimes this is normal and expected.  No, his stomach is not distended, he isn't excessively fussy, he's eating normally, and has plenty of wet diapers.)




Has this ever happened to any of your babies before?  Do you "wait it out" or does your pediatrician encourage taking action against constipation?

Friday, July 8, 2011

On Hypnobirthing

T and I went into our pregnancy and labor with lots of expectations and desires to do everything "right."  The right way being subjective, of course.

I sought prenatal care at a wonderful birth center where the midwives only perform natural births.  Each prenatal visit is designed in a group setting, where everyone sits and discusses topics from nutrition, to baby care, to breastfeeding.  It was enjoyable but a little too basic for T and I.  We had done our research.  We read the books.  We worked with children.  We prepared.  However, we did not know it all and we acknowledged this.  We just were not getting the information we wanted in these classes.  We wanted something more.

I knew that I wanted to give birth naturally if the optimal factors were in place: I was physically healthy, baby boy was in the correct position, he was able to tolerate contractions (also referred to as surges), labor progressed at an appropriate rate.  I wanted to be able to give birth beautifully, peacefully, and as nature intended.


After talking with a good friend who had recently given birth, she connected me with the birthing preparation of Hypnobirthing.  Hypnobirthing, in a sense, is training your mind to release all fears, anxieties, beliefs, and attitudes toward labor and delivery.  Literally, one is giving in to their body and welcoming surges with joy and serenity.  Some women have reported to not feel any pain when they are able to go to this state of peace.  T and I jumped at the opportunity to attend a Hypnobirthing class with 5 other couples.  We meditated, discussed our bodies, released our fears, and celebrated in the joy that is bringing life into this world.  One mantra I learned that proved incredibly useful for my birth, I still hear in my mind to this day:  Each surge of my body brings my baby closer to me.

I went into my birth without any fear, and I succumbed to each surge quietly, peacefully.  At a later date, Tim described me as stoic as I moved little and spoke not at all.  As a result, I birthed my son naturally, with the help of T, my mother, my doula, and incredible midwives.

While it was not pain-free, it was beautiful.  I will do it again some day.